Northern Irish drag queen Cherrie Ontop opens up about abuse following Dragtime Stories event

Drag artist Cherrie Ontop has come under fire on Twitter after a Dragtime Stories event but vows not to let it stop him from hosting more events.

The photograph shows drag artist Cherrie Ontop reading a book to a baby. Cherrie is wearing a rainbow coloured dress with a light blue curly wig done in an up style. She also has rainbow coloured eyeshadow.
Image: @cherrieontopbelfast via Instagram

Belfast-based drag artist Matthew Cavan, also known as Cherrie Ontop, has taken to Twitter to highlight the abuse that he has received following a Dragtime Stories event.

In an emotional Tweet put out on Wednesday, he wrote: “Wow Twitter! I have now been called a Paedophile, groomer, nonce, kiddy fiddler, been threatened and told to kill myself more times in the past 48 hours than I have in my life all because I am a Drag Queen reading Children’s books to Children, trying to remain strong, it’s tough!”

Matthew, who is a staunch HIV activist and is open about his positive status, has been performing drag as Cherrie Ontop for 11 years and reading Dragtime Stories for seven. 

Earlier this week, he came under attack on Twitter after he read at a Dragtime Stories event which was held in the MAC theatre on Sunday, July 31, to mark Belfast Pride 2022.

During the event, a small group of protesters calling themselves ‘Parents Against Grooming’ gathered outside holding banners which read “Hands off our children”.

He explained to Belfast Live “I have been the target of abuse for the last few weeks. I have been getting death threats and have had to get the police involved. I was called a paedophile online.”

Responding to the protesters, he said, “It’s made me realise how important this is, because if it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t have ruffled feathers.”

He continued, “I want to make Northern Ireland a better society for young people. A better society that [sic] I grew up in where I was terrified that I was gay. I was terrified that I maybe wanted to wear a dress and still be a boy.

“People think that I was trying to brainwash children. I don’t really understand that because for me, being a gay person is not a choice, and it is nothing that can be forced upon you.”

These types of demonstrations are not unique to Belfast, with a similar protest occurring during Mayo Pride in July this year. 

As difficult as the reaction on social media has been, Matthew has vowed not to let the experience stop him from continuing with similar Dragtime Stories events, yesterday tweeting “So instead of giving into the haters … I went and got new kids books for my next story time event this Saturday in Belfast!”

He has also posted a video thanking his supporters and announcing another Dragtime Stories event happening this Saturday.

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